Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America


Irv Statler, Army-NASA Research Leader

Dr. Irving Carl Statler passed away on June 25, 2020, at home in Mountain View, California. He was 96 and had been fighting cancer for some time.

Statler was born in Buffalo, New York, on Nov. 23, 1923, to Sarah and Samuel William Statler. He attended Elementary School #74 and Fosdick-Masten Park High School. In February 1945, he graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in Aeronautical Engineering and a BS in Engineering Mathematics. He was inducted into the US Army the next month, serving until August 1946. After the war had concluded, he was assigned to what is now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, as an engineering aide in the Army’s aerodynamics laboratory.

In September 1946, Statler joined the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (CAL) where, during the next 24 years, he held positions in the Flight Research Department, as Head of the Applied Mechanics Department, and as Principal Scientist of the Aero-sciences Division. He took a two-year leave of absence from CAL during 1953 to 1955 to attend the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech), from which he was awarded a PhD in Aerospace Engineering and Mathematics in June 1956. His dissertation was on development of three-dimensional, compressible, subsonic, unsteady-wing theory and examining the importance of unsteady aerodynamic effects to the prediction of dynamic stability characteristics of aircraft. While at Cal Tech, Statler held a part-time position as Senior Research Engineer in Research Analysis Section of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he studied effects of elastic deformations on trajectories of rocket-propelled, spin-stabilized missiles.

In 1970, Statler left CAL to become the Director, Aeromechanics Laboratory, US Army Aviation Systems Command’s Research and Technology Laboratories. For 15 years, he led rotorcraft research in aerodynamics and flight controls at NASA Ames Research Center under the joint Army-NASA partnership. Among other accomplishments, this collaboration resulted in the development of tiltrotor technology that led to the XV-15 and, eventually, the V-22 Osprey. Statler was also instrumental in initiating multiple international research and development (R&D) agreements with leading aerospace laboratories around the world.

In 1985, Statler left the Army to accept the appointment as Director, Advisory Group for Aerospace R&D (AGARD) to the NATO Military Committee in Paris. When Statler completed his three-year assignment with AGARD in July 1988, he embarked on a whole new career in human factors research. He joined NASA Ames as a Principal Engineer, Aerospace Human Factors Research Division. He became head of the Office of Space Human Factors and from 1992 to 1994, he served as Chief of the Human Factors Research Division.

From then until his retirement from NASA in January 2008, Statler was project manager of a series of projects to develop automated methodologies for analyzing diverse data sources to enable safety analysts in the air transportation industry to obtain reliable information on events or trends in daily operations that could compromise the safety of the system.

His group developed and led a large innovative project called Aviation Performance Measuring System (APMS) to monitor commercial aircraft continuously in nearly real time. APMS evolved into an even larger project called Aviation System Monitoring and Modeling (ASMM) under NASA’s Aviation Safety Program. With the technology developed under the ASMM project for extracting and merging information from very large dispersed data sources, Statler’s group demonstrated the concept of a Distributed National Flight Operation Quality Assurance (FOQA) Archive (DNFA) with data from 10 airlines; the DNFA was handed off to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Statler retired in 2008 after 20 years with NASA, but volunteered as an Ames Associate for another six years. He finally vacated his office at NASA in 2014 when he was 90 years old.

During his career, Statler initiated and was responsible for the following international activities and collaborations, many of which continued successfully for long after he left direct participation:

  • 1972–1983: US Army representative on the AGARD Flight Mechanics Panel; Chairman, 1975–1976. US National Coordinator, 1978-1983.
  • 1972–1985: Project Officer for US-France agreement for Cooperative Research in Helicopter Aerodynamics.
  • 1978–1985: Initiated and became Project Officer for US-German agreement for Cooperative Research in Rotary Wing Flight Control and Handling Qualities.
  • 1981–1985: Initiated and became Project Officer for US-Italy agreement for Cooperative Research in Helicopter Dynamics and Simulation.
  • 1972–1985: Project Officer for US-Japan Data Exchange Agreement on Rotary-Wing Technology.
  • 1984–1985: Initiated US-Israel agreement for Cooperative Research in Helicopter Flight Controls and Display Technologies.
  • 1989–1994: Initiated, and was Project Officer for, agreement between NASA Ames and the National Aerospace Laboratory (now the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre, NLR) of The Netherlands for cooperative research in human factors of automated air-traffic control.
  • 1992–2008: Initiated, and was Project Officer for, the agreement between NASA Ames and the Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales (ONERA) in France for cooperative research on human factors of aeronautical accidents and incidents.
  • 2009–2012: Initiated agreement between NASA and easyJet Airline Company Ltd for cooperative research in understanding the consequences, causal and contributing factors to crew fatigue during operations of a regional air carrier.

Statler authored or co-authored over 70 publications and presentations on slender-body aerodynamics, non-stationary aerodynamics, dynamic stability and control, nonlinear control theory, hydrofoil theory, ground-based and in-flight simulation, rotary-wing aerodynamics, pilot human factors, man-machine interaction, data-base mining, anomaly detection, and aviation safety. In 2018, he co-edited the 600-page NASA publication, Figures of Merit: Remembrances of Those Who Built an Army-NASA Collaboration and a New Age of Rotary-Wing Technology, 1965-1985.

He had recently completed a book, Human Consciousness: The Evolution of Our Sensor of Society, which will be printed in early 2021 by World Scientific Publishing Company.

Source: In Memoriam- Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2021